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”She didn’t tell me that,” Bette muttered, mostly talking to herself.
Tina almost asked out loud, why Bette hadn’t told her she had a mother figure in her life, why she had kept it secret from her, but then managed to restrain her resentment.
After a moment of thoughtful silence, the brunette spoke up, ”Who’s been paying property taxes after she died?”
Tina stared at Bette sadly. ”I have.”
Bette nodded slowly, her brows knitted in deep thought as she digested this news. ”In this case I want you to have the money.”
”No,” Tina protested firmly. ”The money was meant for you. I don’t want them. I had no problem paying taxes for your apartment.”
”You didn’t have to do it.”
Tina let out an exasperated sigh. ”This was the deal I’ve made with Mrs. Caroll. So yes, I did have to do it,” she paused, ”I wanted to.”
Bette looked into her eyes intently. ”How have you been?” she asked unexpectedly.
Tina felt the rush of warmth hit her body at the note of caring in Bette’s question.
”I’ve been okay. Working, going home, then back to work again, then going home, and so forth,” Tina shrugged. She held Bette’s gaze. ”Thank you for asking.”
Bette held Tina’s tentative eyes in another meaningful silence. Tina knew what she was doing. She was trying to read her. She was trying to find out more about her by having her eyes tell her everything. The blonde swallowed and looked away, feeling naked all of sudden. She knew that her ex-girlfriend could read her very well.
Bette gulped down the rest of her coffee and stood up without warning. ”I have to go. Thanks for meeting me. I’ll send you my banking details.”
Shocked that their meeting was ending so abruptly, Tina desperately thought of the ways to convince Bette to have another meeting with her.
”Can I call you sometime?” she blurted out and winced immediately, realizing that in her highly emotional state her way of persuasion had turned out rather discourteously blunt.
Bette stared at her unenthusiastically. ”You think it’s a good idea?”
Tina pursed her lips. ”I uh–I’d like to meet you again. Over dinner, perhaps. I’d like us to…to talk more,” she stammered, the nervousness in her voice now accompanied by the feeling of rejection.
With a simple shrug Bette said, ”Whatever. I’m busy most of the time, though. Maybe some day.”
She then waved a cool goodbye and left, leaving Tina alone to watch after her as she walked farther and farther away on the sidewalk before disappearing around the corner of a building.